New York scientists developing enriched crops to fight malnutrition

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New York scientists developing enriched crops to fight malnutrition

A group of scientists in New York are developing special crops to combat hunger.

Enriched with extra vitamins and minerals, the process is called ‘bio-fortification.’

CGTN’s Nick Harper reports.
Follow Nick Harper on Twitter @NickHarperFSN

New York scientists developing enriched crops to fight malnutrition

A group of scientists in New York are developing special crops to combat hunger. Enriched with extra vitamins and minerals, the process is called 'bio-fortification.' CGTN's Nick Harper reports.

Plant Nutritionist Dr. Ross Welch is now retired, but he spent 40 years working in these laboratories at Cornell University, where he helped develop the idea of “bio-fortification.”

“I always say that you can’t get rid of malnutrition until you get agriculture right. Agriculture has to provide something like 43 absolutely essential nutrients all year round for all peoples, in order to have healthy and productive lives for everybody,” Welch said.

The scientists have developed 100 varieties of 12 major staples, like these beans, which had their iron content increased by cross-breeding different iron-rich varieties.

“In developing countries much of the labor is physical labor and your livelihood is dependent on whether you can do the physical tasks that are ahead of you. So when we started to see positive effects to using the food based approach we thought well this is a trip of intervention that has the potential to reach a lot of people, a lot of very poor rural people,” Professor Jere Haas, a Nutritional Scientist at Cornell University said.

The crops are grown and tested here, before being given to farmers in developing countries.

Working with Cornell’s scientists is a driving force behind this effort-the non-profit organization HarvestPlus.

It reaches 20 million people with its crops, but hopes by 2030 to be feeding a billion. And doing it all without genetic modification.

“One of the misperceptions of bio-fortification is that it involves some form of genetic modification. And we have had to work quite hard and we still work hard to reassure people this is just traditional crop breeding. This is just crossing old varieties that used to be high in vitamins and minerals with new high-yielding varieties,” Beverley Postma, CEO of HarvestPlus said.

For many, harvest time is now healthier. Eradicating global hunger is still a long way off. But sustainable, bio-fortified crops are tackling nutritional hunger.


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